The Big Hair Scare: Is it Safe to Shave and Wax During Cancer Treatment?
No matter how confident you are, cancer rarely leaves you feeling sexy. But do we really need to feel hairy too? Despite the long list of negative side effects that can impact self image during cancer treatments, many women continue shaving or waxing so they can feel as groomed and gorgeous as before. Many men, as well, keep up their usual shaving habits. It’s important, however, to take some precautions. (Read our post on The Tough Guy’s Guide to Shave During Treatment.) Even after you’ve learned how to be safe, there may be a few habits you’ll need to change during treatment.
For many patients, hair loss is a natural consequence of treatment. An article from the Mayo Clinic explains: “Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body—not just on your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair falls out.” If you’re actively undergoing chemotherapy- or radiation-related treatments, it’s best to stop waxing and shaving altogether, and take proper care of the skin with toxin-free moisturizers. (Read about the benefits of organic creams here.) For example, if radiation therapy causes your skin to become red, irritated or inflamed, resist the urge to wax or shave until the skin is completely healed.
As long as your skin has not been negatively affected, proceed with hair-removal techniques, using caution. Some patients find that they don’t have to shave at all during treatment since they have lost most of their body hair anyway, or since it has dramatically thinned out. Now that’s a bonus if you are a woman! If you’re not that “lucky,” however, make sure you’re watching out for infection. As the article “Beauty Treatment Therapies For Cancer Patients” states, “Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are at a higher risk of infection because the treatments suppress the body’s immune system.” Use tools that have been properly sanitized and sterilized—preferably disposable razors that should be tossed after each use. Lather the skin with toxin-free shaving products like fragrance-free formulas by Avalon Organics (specifically made for sensitive skin) or Hok2’s organic shaving cream with aloe vera and green tea. If waxing, avoid salons or spas that may put you at risk for additional germs.
If your body or muscles are increasingly sore from cancer treatments and fatigue, skip procedures that will increase sensitivity, like waxing or plucking. Remember to always moisturize to prevent additional cracks or rashes. Try a toxin-free product like California Baby Calming Botanical Moisturizing Cream, and always protect exposed skin with toxin-free mineral sunscreen like Solar RX Broad Spectrum SPF.
An article about chemotherapy recently explained the importance of using caution during hair removal, by avoiding cuts and scrapes (which can lead to infection), using electric razors instead of standard blades whenever possible, or even wearing gloves. If you’re preparing to shave your head in preparation for impending hair loss (or the fitting of a new wig), remember that the experience can be different for everyone. As the blogger from “Breast Cancer and Me” explained (after publicly shaving her head), “I opened my eyes and cried…But in that instant, a funny thing happened. I opened my eyes and expected to see a stranger… but I didn’t. I saw me. It was me looking back from the mirror.” Although shaving and waxing your body during cancer should always be handled with care and caution, dealing with cancer on a daily basis is truly different for everyone.
* Let Us Know: Did you shave, wax or pluck when dealing with cancer? How did your protect your skin and body during hair removal?
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